Home Business The benefits of living in the same place for a long time

The benefits of living in the same place for a long time

by SuperiorInvest

The last time Arlene Schulman went apartment hunting, the Internet was just in its infancy. “I did what everyone did 30 years ago,” Schulman said. “I asked everyone I knew if they knew of any available apartments.”

Like most apartment hunters in the 1990s, he also rushed to pick up a copy of The Village Voice on Thursday nights to browse the classified ads. “I remember being very aggressive because I knew my income wasn't going up as fast as my rent,” she said.

A co-worker tipped him off about a one-bedroom apartment in Inwood. “She said, 'Can you pay $250 a month?'”

At the time, Ms. Schulman was working for ABC News and was considering working for herself as a freelance photographer and writer. She paid $1,000 a month for a studio on the Upper East Side. She understood that the opportunity to cut the rent so drastically would completely reconfigure her life. “That $250 represented a lot of freedom,” she said. “For someone in the artistic economic class, her income fluctuates. You can be very good one month and not so good the next. “That $250 was something I could afford no matter what.”

And the freedom could be lasting because the available apartment in the six-story building was rent-stabilized, meaning its rent increases would be measured and predictable. So, he took the A train to the last stop at the northern tip of Manhattan and never looked back.

She upgraded to a one-bedroom on the top floor about five years after moving in. “I'm in the attic,” she said, laughing. “There is no one above me.”

It is also the quietest side of the building. “The front is exposed to sirens and traffic,” she said, “but if you go next to me, it's so quiet you can hear the raccoons fighting.”

The apartment is filled with artifacts from three decades of freedom, an old typewriter, piles of books and photographs covering the walls. He started photographing boxing on a whim and ended up documenting the sport for 10 years, taking photos of everyone from Joe Frazier to Ray Arcel. “There was something about the warmth of the community but also the intensity,” she said. “It was something I really embraced.”

He spent time photographing the Yankees and Mets, police officers and ordinary New Yorkers. “This apartment has my creative history,” she said. “It is my refuge. I don't go to a coffee shop. Why would there be? My things are here. “My refrigerator is here.”

She keeps the place from feeling stale by routinely rearranging the furniture. “My couch has been in every corner of the living room,” she said. Most of her furniture was bought second-hand or taken off the street. An old sign for a neighborhood pizzeria hangs on the wall above her couch. “It makes me happy to know that she didn't end up in a landfill,” she said. “I try to conserve.”


$1,116 | In wood

Occupation: Writer, filmmaker and photographer

About the old guard: When Schulman first moved into her building, she remembers it being filled with mostly older women. “They had raised their families, their husbands had passed away, and they were living alone,” he said. “They were great security because they sat outside the building in beach chairs, watching everything.”

About colors: While Schulman prefers to use solid, dark colors (almost exclusively), he gives his apartment a completely different treatment. “The color doesn't suit me, that's for the living room. I dress monochromatically, but the apartment is another story. “I love the color and I love the engraving.”

Inwood has not only helped define Schulman's decorating but also the direction of his work. In recent years she has focused on short film projects; most are about his neighborhood in one way or another. In one project she gave an ode to the life of a beloved baker named Renee Mancino and in another she interviewed Lin-Manuel Miranda about her disappearance into the wilds of Inwood Hill Park when she was a child.

“There's something magical about this neighborhood,” he said. “When I look for another topic or story, something always comes up. “Neighbor” here doesn't just mean next door. “For a lot of people here, ‘neighbor’ means anyone in Inwood.”

For a film project about a man in the early stages of dementia still caring for his mother with Alzheimer's, Ms. Schulman was able to raise funds from local small businesses. The supermarket where she shops promised money, as did the car service she uses.

Most recently, he raised $2,500 in seed funding for an upcoming project about a small community of Greek Jews in Ioannina, where his maternal grandparents once lived.

In a way, you feel like you've experienced the entire city of New York, all from one building in one neighborhood. “We are a microcosm of everything that happens in the city,” she said. “Stolen packages, fires, domestic violence, noise complaints… whatever happens in the city, it's been happening here for decades.”

There was the hoarder who left a window open so pigeons could nest in the apartment. “The smell on certain days was really strong,” she recalled. “I was afraid to have people in the building.”

Over the years, there have been not one but three fires. “By the third fire, you get better at managing the fear of it and knowing what to do,” he said.

Ms. Schulman's fire alarm went off two years ago. She was riding the subway and her phone was flooded with notifications from people trying to make sure she was okay. Luckily, it was a false alarm. “People take care of each other,” she said. “It is not an anonymous place. You may not know everyone by name, but everyone is very friendly. “We even have family groups in the building, where you will find different branches of the same family in different apartments.”

He has seen several neighbors grow old and a couple of them die. “As the years went by,” she said, “I would see a cane, then a walker, then a wheelchair, then a home aide, and then they weren't there, they weren't there anymore. “It was like observing the ecosystem of the building.”

Every change in that ecosystem alters Ms. Schulman's experience in her own home. There was her neighbor who yelled at her TV every year during the Super Bowl. “When the Super Bowl came around after her death,” she recalled, “it was that feeling of, 'Oh, wait, something's missing.'”

But there have also been many births and demographic changes marked by changes in delicious smells at dinner time. Gone are the days of Irish neighbors with corned beef and cabbage floating in the hallway. “Now I open the door and someone is preparing Dominican food,” he said. “It smells so good, my God. I'm tempted to knock on the door: 'Any leftovers?'”

The changes are life-giving, each one is a new way of relating to the world around you. He can't imagine living anywhere else. “I've experienced some cycles of life myself,” she said. “And I live in a neighborhood that has really fostered my creativity, so I don't see the need to leave. Who knows? “This could be my last apartment.”

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